[JK:I received the release below from Rob Arrigo who chairs the Libertarian Party. Here is some background.
For years the Saratoga Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) was the organization promoting economic development in Saratoga County. The County Board of Supervisors defunded the SEDC when the SEDC board refused to accept appointments of County Supervisors to its board. The SEDC decision was based on its concern that the appointment of Supervisors would politicize the organization. It is worth bearing in mind that all the Supervisors would like to see companies locate in their towns and cities so having individual Supervisors on the SEDC board raises the issue of conflict of interest.
In the meantime, the County funded an organization called the Saratoga Prosperity Partnership (SPP) to the tune of $750,000.00 a year with five Supervisors on its board. As Rob noted, in the following three years they produced a total of twelve jobs.
Most recently the County retreated modestly. They redirected $150,000.00 of the SPP money to the SEDC, and they earmarked another $150,000.00 as seed money for municipalities. It is unclear how much the County will be paying the SPP directly next year. They are now talking about the SPP working collaboratively with SEDC and requiring that the two bodies meet together monthly. Based on stories in the Times Union, what the SPP will actually do appears squishy.
I sent emails to the two Saratoga Springs Supervisors asking them to comment on the Libertarian Committee’s allegations. I also sent an email to Marty Vanag who heads the SPP. Neither Marty Vanag nor Supervisor Matt Veitch responded to my request. I received an email from Tara Gaston who offered the following:
I continue to have concerns with the amount of economic development funding from the County and the redundancy in that area, and continue to press for answers to my questions. It is my understanding that the unity agreement proposed that many of the concerns will be relieved, including travel and the focus of organizations; it will also provide County funding for SEDC. However, I have not been provided the proposed contract (despite requests) and so cannot verify changes at this time.
Saratoga County continues with its track record of self dealing and ineptitude. As an indication of their tone deafness consider the following. According to the Times Union, Kevin Hedley, who chairs the SPP took exception to the characterization that the SPP was spending taxpayer dollars. He pointed out that the money comes from the County bed tax that is charged to County hotels/motels. Its that kind of parsing that characterizes both the County government and the SPP.
In another unfortunate coincidence, Brendan Chudy is on the SPP. People following my blog may remember that he was on the city’s Ethics Board and opposed Chris Mathiesen’s proposals to strengthen the city’s Ethics Code. Fortunately, Dr. Matheisen’s proposals received the unanimous approval of the City Council.]
Saratoga County Libertarian Committee Fights To Defund Saratoga Prosperity Partnership (SPP)
After successful election season, LPNY Saratoga turns to eliminating wasteful spending
Ballston Spa— For Immediate Release — The Saratoga County Libertarian Party Committee is circulating a petition to defund the Saratoga Prosperity Partnership. It can be found on their website http://www.lpnysaratoga.org/petition-detail?petitionId=1000 The Party saw 6 of its 7 endorsed candidates elected in 2019 and hopes to gain more traction by fighting to stop wasting money.
About the Petition
The petition calls on the Saratoga Board of Supervisors to stop wasting money by zeroing out the budget for the Saratoga Prosperity Partnership and spend that money on other local priorities like investing in infrastructure.
“Since 2015 when Saratoga County chartered the Saratoga Prosperity Partnership, a government led economic development corporation, and fully funded it from expanded taxing authority on hotels, it has spent nearly $4M for its efforts.
Well documented public reports have revealed excessive travel expenses , salaries and little demonstrated progress attracting new project investment and job creation . In fact, according to the Times Union, throughout its nearly five years of service only one project came to Waterford from Troy leading to just 12 new jobs.
This experiment in failed publicly funded economic development must end in this budget. We are signing this petition calling on our election town Supervisors to cut funding for the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership for 2020.
Spending $4 million collected from hotel occupancy taxes for next to no economic impact is not acceptable. Government-style bureaucracy is not an effective use of tax dollars.
Zero out the budget for this agency in favor of better investment in local priorities like improving the county’s infrastructure.”
The Saratoga Prosperity Partnership is funded by the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors. Its mandate is to develop business and create jobs in the county, with an annual budget of approximately $775,000 according to the Albany Business Journal.
Board of Supervisors Review
The Saratoga Board of Supervisors is in the process of producing a budget for fiscal year 2020 and in that process, it will review the budget for the SPP. There will be a public budget hearing on December 4, 2019.
“It is so important that Saratoga County Residents voice their concern with the amount of money wasted and failed projects the SPP has generated.” Said Libertarian County Chair, Rob Arrigo.
SPP vs SEDC
In the past four years the SPP has been able to claim credit for 12 jobs created after spending over $4Million of County money. In operation since 1978, The Saratoga Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) has been able to claim over 17,000 jobs created over the last 3 years in its projects with Zero county money. The SEDC was defunded by the County in 2014 when it refused to allow elected officials to serve on its board to prevent corruption.